Wednesday, September 22, 2010


If I were a tycoon and could afford the best medical expertise to cure an illness, would it be wrong for me to use my money to buy my way through a long queue of patients so that I get treated first instead of those who’ve been waiting much longer in line before me?

I suspect many would find such an attitude disgusting! But the reality about the survival instinct is that we’re willing to do unimaginable things in order to remain alive. When in desperation, we might pay a lot of money to preserve life, quite often even when we can’t really afford it!

For example, say that I’m dying of a failing kidney, and desperately need a quick kidney transplant. There are many others in the same situation, but unfortunately we don’t have very many kidney donors. There may be some people out there who’re keen to donate, but do not see the urgency of the matter. Some people procrastinate, you see. If they are willing to donate, would it be unethical to use money to bid for their organs? It seems so wrong, somehow.

That’s why Datuk Dr Harjit Singh is condemning the act of buying or selling organs [The Star]. And then Datin Dr Lela opined that the act is unethical. However, it would be very interesting to see what would happen if Harjit and Lela themselves are dying of kidney failure, or perhaps their loved ones are suffering the illness; and the only available option to remain alive is from a donor who demands RM50,000 for one of his kidneys. I wonder if they would rather die, or let their loved ones die, than spending that RM50,000, especially if they can easily afford that amount.

People are always fast to condemn what others do on “ethical” grounds. But survival is a very strong motivation—it is a built-in instinct that is not easy to go against. We would all love to live another day—to see another sunrise; to see the smiles and hear the laughter of our loved ones just one more time. One should be dying of kidney failure himself in order to really know what people in that situation are going through. And only then is he truly qualified to say whether the act is ethical or not. This world is after all not perfect, and it will never be! All we can do is to try to make the best of it. And sometimes, the best means we may need to use money to get things done. I’m afraid that’s reality.


Tekko said...

Hmmm remind me of the Tang Wee Sung case in Singapore where he bought a kidney and kena caught and charge. Tang Wee Sung was the head honcho of CK Tang, a dept store with outlets here and in Malaysia. Before this case, the govt's position was against sale of body part but probably becos of who Mr Tang is, they did a review and change the law so that now doner of body part can get paid. So got money, can do a lot of wonder!

Cornelius said...

You betcha, Tekko!

I'm just trying to imagine now... If, for example, my child is dying of kidney failure, and the only way to save her is by buying a kidney from a willing seller with matching kidney(in this case, it's no longer a donor in the true sense of the word), I think I wouldn't take very long to decide for it, ethical or not! Because my life would be close to meaningless if I just let my child die. In fact, I think I would do it even if I can't afford the price. I would probably beg, borrow or steal to buy that kidney! Maybe I would do it even if I have to spend a few years in jail.

teo said...

Money controls ALMOST everything. Some people may say money cannot buy happines.....but nowadays no money guarantee no happiness.

I would have do the same as you Corny, but will not go to the extend to spend a few years in jail lah .... Steal wisely and avoid the jail.

Anonymous said...

When you have money, you can even arrange someone to spend your jail term for you.

Or you can check out in the morning, do whatever you want to do and check in again when it is time to sleep in your water bed.

Money Controls All!

Cornelius said...

Haha! Teo, obviously I would try my best to avoid going to jail. But, y'know, once I decide to do something illegal (stealing from others), I must then be prepared for the worst case scenario, which is going to jail.

Incidentally, a friend commented to me about this post, but did not comment here. I told him that I would not think very long to give my own kidney to my child if it matches hers. That would of course save a lot of trouble. But just because I am her immediate family member, that doesn't always mean that my kidney matches hers. So the issue of buying a kidney from a stranger is based on the assumption that my own kidney is no good for my child.

Cornelius said...

Anonymous friend,

I've read about the scenario you've given here in Indonesia, but I'm not aware that it's happening in Malaysia too. However, I won't be surprised if it does indeed happen in Malaysia!

Yes, money is very powerful. I don't know if it "controls all" though. But if there are things which money can't control, I'd reckon there are not very many of them.